If the frozen-out inaugural parade had been held as scheduled, viewers would have seen the United States Cavalry clippety-clopping its horses and mules along Pennsylvania Avenue.
The United States Cavalry? Good heavens! The horse cavalry fought its last battle 90 years ago and disbanded -- disposing of its mounts -- a bit more than 40 years ago, with its foremost officers, such as Gen. George S. Patton Jr., moving over to tanks.
Knowing -- or, at least, believing -- this, Metro Scene ran an item a year or so ago asserting that the funeral/ceremonial unit at Fort Myer was the last of the Army's horses. Not so.
For about four years, the Army has had a real honest-to-goodness horse cavalry platoon, 20 horses and four mules. Initially it was informal, with donated mounts, but it has become an officially recognized ceremonial unit of the 1st Cavalry Division -- now actually an armored unit -- at Fort Hood, Tex. Its members use authentic equipment, weapons and uniforms from the past century. The horse platoon has the same status, if not the same visibility, as the 3rd Infantry Old Guard of Fort Myer, with its colonial uniforms.
First Cav -- which Gen. Douglas MacArthur called "the first team" during its brilliant campaigning in the Southwest Pacific in World War II -- became a formal unit in 1921, combining subordinate units with much longer histories. Its black and yellow uniform shoulder patch illustrates this column.
The revived horse platoon came from Texas to march in the canceled inaugural parade, and a reception for its members was held at the Fort Myer noncommissioned officers club by the local Gen. George Casey chapter of divisional alumni. The bitter cold reduced attendance Sunday, according to Col. John Sherburn, a divisional alumnus, but two former division commanders -- Lt. Gen. Richard Lawrence and retired Maj. Gen. George Putnam -- were there.